Chicken

This Sheet-Pan Chicken Dinner Gets Its Magic From a Sweet Little Secret

Hint: it's probably hanging out in your fridge right now.

by:
February  7, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

I’m always looking for new ingredients or combinations of flavors to reimagine weeknight dinners. Especially when it comes to sheet-pan dinners, one of my favorite paths from kitchen to table this time of year. I’m often allured by speciality or buzzed-about ingredients (and I certainly have a fridge and pantry full of things like miso, tahini, 'nduja, and harissa at the ready). But sometimes, that one ingredient to elevate and invigorate a dish is hiding in plain sight.

In this case of this sheet-pan chicken dinner, it’s red seedless grapes—you know, the prosaic table variety available all-year round in supermarkets everywhere. You may have a bag in the fridge right now!

Red seedless grapes aren’t exactly the type of fruit to wax poetic about (I’ll save that for spring’s strawberries, summer’s stone fruit, or even fall’s Concord grapes), but they’re reliable, consistent, and relatively inexpensive. I throw a bag in my shopping cart pretty much every time I’m at the grocery store. Besides being a stalwart snack for my kids, I add them to salads to lend juicy freshness (à la the classic Waldorf). Or if I’m looking for a simple, off-the-beaten-path appetizer to pair with meat and cheese, I’ll pickle them with heady, fragrant spices.

But roasting this fruit is, by far, my favorite treatment. Grapes become all kinds of magical when they’re exposed to heat: Their skins slouch and caramelize, their middles get jammy and concentrated, and their sweetness intensifies. Basically, they become complex, intriguing versions of their former selves.

Red grapes are my personal favorite for roasting because of their natural sweetness (meaning deeper, richer caramelization in the oven) but any variety of seedless grapes, from green to black, responds favorably to high-heat roasting.

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Top Comment:
“I accidentally put all the yogurt on the chicken instead of spacing it out, but it was still really great. Thank you for sharing this easy, delicious, flavorful, and healthy meal!”
— Debby
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I learned about the wonders of roasted grapes from the community on this very site. Recipes like this Simple Roasted Grape Chicken, Roasted Fennel and Grapes, and Grape, Almond, and Olive Oil Cake made me a roasted grape convert, and ideas like these Crostini with Roasted Grapes only heightened my affection. They're no less delicious when grilled or broiled in clusters, still on the stem, which I like to do alongside grilled meat, like this Go-To Grilled Chicken. Several times over the last few months, I’ve made this bewitching Burrata with Grilled Grapes & Basil from Ottolenghi’s Simple as an appetizer for casual gatherings.

So I’m not sure why it took me so long to invite grapes to the sheet pan for a simple weeknight-friendly dinner full of flavor and verve.

Inspired by the Curried Chicken, Grape & Cheddar Salad that I created for Food52's Mighty Salads, I decided to pair grapes with curry-rubbed chicken thighs—the rub a simple, spunky mix of olive oil, curry powder, and yogurt. Cauliflower also seemed a natural pairing, given its affinity for spicy curry and sweet, jammy fruit.

From there, I borrowed a tried-and-true technique from this sheet-pan chicken: I staggered the entry of ingredients by roasting the chicken thighs solo for about 15 minutes, then nestling the grapes and cauliflower around the chicken. Just 20 minutes later, the chicken emerged from the oven burnished and richly flavored, the cauliflower tender and crispy-edged, and the grapes gloriously sticky and sweet.

The combination was compelling, especially with a smattering of bright green herbs and salted, creamy yogurt on the side.

It was one of those almost obvious, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that dinners that I immediately put into my weeknight rotation. And while I constantly riff and improvise when I cook, I wouldn't even think of making this sheet-pan dinner without the red grapes. They’re the dish-making ingredient.

Have you ever roasted grapes before? If so, what do you like to pair them with? Tell us in the comments!

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EmilyC

Written by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

13 Comments

Beckie F. April 26, 2019
Excellent in every way. Followed the recipe as written and it was perfect. The yogurt w/ lemon sauce adds the right finish.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC April 26, 2019
Wonderful, so happy to hear this! Thanks Beckie!
 
Anne March 3, 2019
This turned out AWFUL. The grapes didn’t carmelize and the cauliflower was soggy from the fat rendered from the chicken. Tasing the temp resulted in burning. It was a hot mess. Sorry.
 
GD February 24, 2019
Made this last night using boneless thighs and breasts. It was very easy. Great aromas while cooking. The meal was really flavourful. This is a keeper.
 
Marc L. February 18, 2019
I made this tonight. We don’t do dairy with meat (kosher) so I used oil only. This was fast, easy, delicious. Will definitely make it again.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC February 18, 2019
So glad you made and liked this, Marc! Thanks for your note!
 
wik February 17, 2019
there is so much other crap on these pages now, I cannot even find the recipe!! I simply cannot tolerate the new site--so much pressure to buy stuff and intrusive video pop ups. I know you have to sell, sell, sell to remain competitive, but geez!
 
Debby February 15, 2019
I accidentally put all the yogurt on the chicken instead of spacing it out, but it was still really great. Thank you for sharing this easy, delicious, flavorful, and healthy meal!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC February 16, 2019
You’re welcome, and thank YOU for making it! So glad you liked it! : )
 
Lynne B. February 17, 2019
I am not a curry fan but love this idea. What alternative to curry would you recommend?
 
Author Comment
EmilyC February 17, 2019
Hi Lynne! On the recipe page, a few people said they tried different spice mixes—garam masala and tajin were the two mentioned. You could do turmeric and a little grated ginger, or Aleppo and lemon zest would be lovely too. So many possibilities! Hope this helps!
 
Rita C. April 26, 2019
I was wondering the same thing...maybe a taco seasoning with a handful of cilantro?
 
Author Comment
EmilyC April 26, 2019
Sure, go for it!